Mali’s president has appointed the government of the country’s new prime minister, as he prepares for a presidential campaign amid an ongoing threat from jihadists.
According to a decree published Sunday, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita installed 36 ministers for Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga’s government.
Six new members are entering the government, formed hours after 63-year-old Maiga’s appointment on Saturday following the unexpected resignation of Abdoulaye Idrissa Maiga on Friday.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdoulaye Diop has been replaced by Tieman Hubert Coulibaly, former Minister of Territorial Administration.
The new prime minister is considered close to Keita, despite having resigned as defence minister in 2014 after the Malian army suffered a string of setbacks against Tuareg rebel groups in the country’s restive northern region.
According to observers, the Malian head of state is preparing for the presidential campaign and is seeking better control of the situation in the north.
The region is still a theatre of unrest almost six years after a French-led military operation chased Islamic extremists linked to Al-Qaeda from a region they had taken control of in early 2012.
Mali’s army, French soldiers and a UN mission (MINUSMA) still have little control over large tracts of the country, which regularly come under attack in spite of a peace accord signed with Tuareg leaders in May and June 2015 with the aim of isolating the jihadists.
The spread of the unrest this year prompted the G5 regional forum, which also includes Mauritania and Chad, to step up peace efforts with French support.
Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga is the fifth Prime Minister appointed by President Keita, elected in August 2013 for five years and likely to be re-elected in 2018.